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Industrial accidents in Texas oil fields - New regulations ahead?

Here in Texas, the oil industry is growing steadily and changing the lives of many residents for the better. Even so, it is not without risk to those who work in the oil fields and live in the surrounding area. Efforts are underway to impose new safety regulations, meant to minimize industrial accidents and keep employees and the public safe. Lately, these efforts have spawned opposition from the industry.

The federal government, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is attempting to extend its supervision of safety measures at oil wells. It has been reported that the number of deaths related to the oil industry were at their highest in 2012 -- the most in a decade across the nation. Explosions and fires put not only workers at risk for injury and death, but also any residents or bystanders in the surrounding area. Several safety agencies recommend a tightening of regulations that, they argue, will save lives.

Many of the larger companies that comprise the bulk of the oil industry are opposed, stating that the problem has been exaggerated. They fear that more regulation will curtail the boost to the economy that the oil industry is creating. Those who seek more oversight counter that preventable accidents are often the cause of fatalities and, therefore, of great concern.

The surviving family of a victim of a fatal oilfield accident may elect to assess their legal options, including the possibility of a wrongful death claim against the parties deemed responsible. A successfully argued claim could result in an award of monetary damages stemming from one of these deadly industrial accidents. There are a myriad of legal issues to consider, including whether the victim was an employee and what party or parties might face claims for financial liability. Those Texas families that are affected will want to pay special attention to this issue to help protect their loved ones.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Industry opposes push to tighten oil field safety rules", Jennifer A. Dlouhy, April 13, 2014

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